Simple Ways to Drive Collaboration in the Workplace
“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.”
- Steve Jobs
As you can see from the quote above, Steve Jobs was a businessman who understood the importance of collaboration and teamwork in the workplace, but why does it matter so much?
Collaboration is defined as “two or more people working together to complete a task or achieve a goal.” Around the office you’ll probably see employees brainstorming, holding group discussions, analyzing problems and looking for solutions, etc. These are all great examples of collaboration.
The reason collaboration is so important in the workplace is because of the many benefits that it brings. These include: helping with problem-solving, creating a team environment, higher employee morale and increasing employee efficiency.
So, what can you do to create a collaborative work environment? Let’s have a look below to find out.
Create a Breakout Area
Today, in a typical office environment, employees tend to do almost everything from behind a computer screen. They can easily “meet” or ask their coworkers questions online, without even having to get up to have a conversation. With employees moving around the office less and less it can lead to a less collaborative environment.
One way to foster collaboration is to have an open office workspace that includes shared collaboration areas. These shared collaboration areas can also be known as breakout areas. What is a breakout area? A breakout area is a casual and informal space within an office that employees can use to get together, have informal meetings, brainstorm, or even take a break throughout the day.
A successful breakout area is a casual space that supports open communication between employees, so ideas can be shared. Creating this type of breakout area is simple – just contract one of our Furniture Specialists who will help create a customized solution that will work for your space. You can also discuss the following furniture with the Specialist:
- Soft Seating: This refers to upholstered furniture or cushioned seating. It can include couches, ottomans and lounge furniture. Having this type of furniture in your office will help you create that casual feel you want. It also allows employees to sit down in a more informal setting and collaborate.
- Tables: Having at least one table in the breakout area will provide employees with a space to gather around and brainstorm with one another. Small round tables throughout the breakout area or a simple coffee table if your office space is limited offer a great solution. Make sure to have tables of different heights - for those employees who prefer to stand.
- Chairs: When it comes to choosing chairs for your breakout space, there are a lot to choose from. Try to select chairs that are easy to move around, so employees can quickly pull up a chair and join one another.
- Dividers: Depending on the size of your office, your breakout area may be closely located to employees’ workstations. To ensure the breakout area is a place away from the typical office environment you can get dividers to separate the areas.
- Whiteboards: Since employees will likely end up brainstorming in the breakout area, we suggest putting up whiteboards. Employees can use these to write down their shared ideas from any impromptu or planned collaboration sessions.
An office breakout area doesn’t need to be lavish. It can be as simple as having tables, chairs and seating that is different from your current office space. This will assist in offering a fresh working environment that can help re-inspire creativity, communication, and collaboration.
Give Them Coffee
Breakout zones are a great way to encourage collaboration in the workplace, and you can make the space even more inviting by supplying employees with free (and great tasting) coffee. Having coffee in the breakout area will encourage employees to take unscheduled breaks resulting in team members dropping by to join relevant conversations about projects and impromptu stand-up meetings. Providing free coffee will also help team members feel good about working for your company and create an opportunity for collaboration to flourish.
How does this happen? Well, people love coffee, especially Canadians, so FREE coffee helps people feel even happier. Free coffee also encourages employees to take coffee breaks in the office as opposed to outside the office, which saves any lost time that occurs when employees leave the office to get their favourite drink elsewhere. With employees getting their coffee fix in the office instead, it increases the chances of team members running into each other which can often lead to your employees talking to one another about their different projects and bouncing ideas off one another, leading to collaborative and productive sessions in the coffee area.
Have a Snack Zone
We’ve spoken about the benefits of having a breakout zone, but here’s what you can do to enhance it. Make sure that your breakout area is stocked with free snacks! Why should you do this? Well, like coffee, free snacks follow the idea that when employees get up to grab a snack, they have a higher chance of bumping into their co-workers, giving them the time to have a chat and share ideas with each other.
Free snacks also help employees avoid hitting that 3:00 pm wall that occurs towards the end of the day. What is the 3:00 pm wall? It’s when employees start to feel tired and hungry, resulting in a loss of energy. By supplying employees with free snacks, they’ll be able to help overcome the afternoon slump and get the energy they need to stay focused and productive. Why not encourage your employees to eat their snacks in the breakout area, as “breaking bread” together helps build bonds between employees that can encourage collaboration.
Are you Ready to Foster Collaboration?
In the modern world of amazing technology, it can be easy for your team to stay behind their computer screens and complete their work independently. That’s why it is up to you to encourage collaboration in the workplace. By providing a breakout area with free coffee and snacks, you will have created a work environment where employees will have multiple opportunities to collaborate, as well as the opportunity to brainstorm across all departments giving them the chance to gain different perspectives they wouldn’t have had if they simply sat at their desk all day. When collaboration occurs, it allows for a higher chance of creativity, productivity, and happiness. So, are you ready to foster collaboration in your workplace?